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Cablegate: Egypt: Tip Issues Update

VZCZCXYZ0000
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHEG #2536 2271412
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 151412Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY CAIRO
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6542

UNCLAS CAIRO 002536

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR NEA/ELA, G/TIP

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SOCI PGOV KWMN KCRM EG
SUBJECT: EGYPT: TIP ISSUES UPDATE

REF: CAIRO 2030

Sensitive but unclassified. Please protect accordingly.

1. (SBU) Summary: This summer we have seen modest but
genuine GOE progress on TIP. The GOE has announced the
establishment of an inter-ministerial committee to combat TIP
in Egypt. People's Assembly (PA) representative Georgette
Qellini announced in June that she would introduce a draft
law when Parliament reconvenes in November seeking to
institute harsher punishments for those found guilty of TIP.
Finally, the GOE has initiated a public awareness campaign
airing a UN-produced public service announcement (PSA) on
trafficking several times a day on state-owned and operated
Egyptian television. End summary.

2. (SBU) A July 15 Prime Ministerial decree formally
established a "National Committee to Combat and Prevent
Trafficking in Persons." (Senior MFA officials had first
previewed this committee for us in late 2006.) NGO activists
have told us they expect that the bulk of the committee's
work will be shared by the Ministries of Justice and the
Interior, which traditionally have had the lead for combating
trafficking in Egypt. The July 15 decree noted that the
Committee's responsibilities will include: submitting annual
reports on the status of efforts to combat TIP to the GOE's
Council of Ministers; drafting a national plan of action to
prevent TIP in Egypt; coordinating with international bodies
such as the United Nations; drafting anti-TIP legislation;
and building anti-TIP capacity through educational, judicial,
and general awareness programming. Egypt's official wire
service and the largest independent daily, Al Masry Al Youm,
published prominent articles covering the decree. Working
level officials at both the Public Prosecutor's Office and
the MFA told us that the Committee's first formal meeting
will occur in early September.

3. (SBU) Separately, PA member Georgette Qellini told us
that she presented a draft law in June to the People's
Assembly which seeks to impose harsher penalties on those
convicted of human trafficking crimes. The new law includes
punishment by "temporary hard labor" for any individual found
to be trafficking a child younger than sixteen years of age.
If the person convicted of trafficking a minor is a relative
or guardian, or if the victim is a female, the draft law
proposes that a life sentence of hard labor should be
imposed. The law also seeks to punish anyone who receives
services from TIP victims, including a sentence of temporary
hard labor for "the buyer." Qellini said her draft law, in
addition to major revisions to the children's protection law,
will be considered by the PA when it reconvenes in November.

4. (SBU) In early July, state-owned Egyptian television
began airing UN-produced public service announcements on
labor trafficking during prime time broadcasts. As the
result of direct advocacy by NCCM Director Ambassador Mushira
Khattab, the head of ETV, Suzanne Hassan, agreed to air the
spots free of charge in order to raise public awareness
effort about TIP. Media monitoring indicated that the spots
were aired throughout the day, most notably before and after
evening news programs, serials and popular prime-time talk
shows.

5. (SBU) Comment: The GOE has used the "blue-ribbon
commission" approach to tackle various controversial issues,
including gender issues and human rights. The new committee
is solid evidence that GOE realizes that a more robust
approach to TIP in Egypt is needed. NCCM's work with ETV to
broadcast the trafficking PSAs is also an important step,
abetted by the Embassy's PA section which placed the
UN-produced PSAs with NCCM. Similarly, the fact that the
People's Assembly is scheduled to consider the revised child
protection law (as well as the related proposal, submitted by
PA member Qellini, for increased penalties for TIP) beginning
in November can also be seen as an additional opportunity for
progress.


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